Merafhe’s retirement draws mixed reactions
by Kabelo Seitshiro
Vice President Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe’s voluntary retirement, after a public service career of over 50 years, has raised different reactions from across the country’s political arena.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Publicity Secretary, Taolo Lucas, says the BCP recognizes Merafhe’s service to the nation and welcomes it. He said Merafhe’s most outstanding contribution was during his tenure as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. However, Lucas said Merafhe’s tenure thereafter was not particularly good as “he was elected to become praise poet for President Khama without using his wisdom, experience, skills and knowledge to assist the presidency”.
“He would have left a better legacy if he maintained his independence as Vice President,” said Lucas, adding that the vice president’s retirement was a long overdue.
He wished Merafhe “a restful retirement”, adding that he should also retire from his constituency and active politics.
The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) also extended warm wishes to Merafhe, noting that he has been of remarkable service throughout his civil service years and his active political years.
“We can’t afford a militarized cabinet in a society such as Botswana. We thus remain hopeful that the President will appoint a fresh, younger person to be his deputy,” said BMD spokesperson, Rasina Rasina.
He highlighted that BMD remains further hopeful that the President will go against the culture of recycling the same faces to positions of power by appointing a fresh capable mind.
Rasina added that they shall remember Merafhe as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation who served this country exceptionally well during the formative years of our development.
“No one can doubt his dedication and commitment to our national service. Honourable Merafhe has been a father and a guider in the development of Botswana and the political landscape of the country,” said Rasina.
BMD is also of the view that under Merafhe, Botswana never found itself in confusion with regard to international relations, unlike now where double standards application seems to be the foundation of the Foreign Ministry and the Presidency.
Merafhe is said to have informed President Ian Khama of his intention to retire on 31st July 2012 and Khama accepted the Vice President's request to retire.
Government spokesperson Dr Jeff Ramsay said Merafhe had previously indicated his intention to retire in the year 2014, but due to ill-health he has chosen to retire earlier. He stated that the retirement comes after Merafhe has served this country in various capacities for an aggregate period of more than 50 years.
His record of public service dates back to his commissioning as a Constable in the then Bechuanaland Protectorate Police in 1960. Since then he has distinguished himself in many assignments, including founding BDF Commander, International Statesman and doyen of local Sports development as well as Botswana's sixth Vice President.
Amongst his endless list of honours are Naledi ya Botswana, Presidential Order of Honour, Botswana Police Medal for Meritorious Service, Distinguished Service Medal, Friendship Medal of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba, Conferred Honorary Professorship by Shanghai Normal University, People's Republic of China July 2010 as well as World Citizen Award for Excellence (The Bahamas), October 2011.